It’s not a particularly good time to ask Fred Sainz about the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner.
It’s a weekday morning just days before the annual event and he, like many at the LGBT rights organization, is bogged down in details and logistics.
“It’s almost like giving birth,” he says. “You know, it’s an incredibly exciting event but you kind of can’t wait for it to be over too.”
The event is Saturday evening at the Convention Center (801 Mt. Vernon Place N.W.) and is sold out. Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker, NAACP President Ben Jealous and actress Sally Field are slated to appear. A troupe from Cirque du Soleil will perform. About 3,000 are expected. Details are at hrcnationaldinner.org.
Sainz came to HRC about two-and-a-half years ago and works as vice president of communications and marketing. The 44-year-old Miami-area native says it’s been satisfying work.
“It’s really been the privilege of a lifetime to be able to do this work and a special honor to be able to work here at this time in the movement’s history,” he says. “I arrived one week before the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal bill dropped in May 2010 so it has been a roller coaster and truly one of the greatest experiences of my life.”
Sainz, a former Republican, went to school in Washington, served in the first Bush White House, then moved to San Diego to work on the ’96 Republican National Convention. He stayed there working at various jobs over the next 14 years before going to Denver where he spent two years working at the Gill Foundation, which he says was “amazing” and prepared him for his position at HRC.
Sainz is “dating someone special” but doesn’t go into details. He lives in Washington and enjoys working out, movies and traveling in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve been out since I was 28 years old and I’m now 44 so it’s been 16 years. My father was the hardest to tell. He and I haven’t spoken since I came out.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
I’m boring so I don’t really know of many but I love Town for Bear Happy Hour on Friday nights.
Describe your dream wedding.
I think weddings (not marriage, but weddings) suck up a lot of money and create unnecessary anxiety. I think a city hall marriage with people that you are close to is preferable.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Virtually any social justice issue.
What historical outcome would you change?
Castro’s takeover of Cuba in 1959. My parents immigrated to this country from Cuba. Imagine leaving the country of your birth and immigrating to another country, virtually penniless and without speaking the language at 28 years old; that’s what they did. In search of better lives and to be free from oppression, they came to the U.S.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The release of Madonna’s first album.
On what do you insist?
Honesty and straightforwardness.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
About HRC’s National Dinner this Saturday.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“The Indignity of Being a Dog”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Nothing. I love being gay. I believe that God created me this way.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I believe in Karma. Do right unto others because if not, a higher life force has a sense of humor.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Make every decision through the lens of young people and you’ll be doing the right thing.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
A vodka/cran on a Friday night.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That all gay men are funny, like Jack from “Will & Grace.”
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Putting up the toilet seat. Why?
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
Me at 44.
It’s the nation’s capital and where laws that change our lives will be passed.